Wednesday, January 20, 2016

e-vo for week of January 13

Dearest e-votees,

Here is a belated edition of last week's e-vo. The Wedding at Cana was our appointed text.



1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

John 2:1-11, NRSV

Consider the Wedding at Cana as follows:

There was a community-based celebration that is going on. This was an affair that lingered over time. It was a culmination of joys and hopes and dreams coming to pass. There were undoubtedly many rituals and traditions that were incorporated and bore much significance. Many people were invited. Jesus and his followers were there.

The wine ran out. The party stopped thriving as it once did. There was likely some measure of shame/embarrassment/grief over things coming undone. Certainly people grew anxious and started scrambling to get things under control. At some point Jesus was invoked.

Protestations. Jesus responds with "Why do you involve me?" and "It isn't my time."

Miracle through earthen vessels There were some vessels lying around. Vessels that might have been easily written off. These vessels had some part in ritual cleansing. These vessels were brought into the mix through the prompting of Jesus. There was treasure to be had in those earthen vessels.

Through those earthen vessels. New life came into being. Renewed joy came into being. An epiphany (revelation) of Jesus came into being.

Consider where God has placed you:

There is a community-based celebration that is going on. You are part of a community that has existed over time. It is a culmination of joys and hopes and dreams coming to pass. There are undoubtedly many rituals and traditions that are incorporated and bear much significance. Many people have been and are invited including you. Jesus and his followers are there.

The wine runs out. At times the party stops thriving as it once did. There is likely some measure of shame/embarrassment/grief over things coming undone. People grew anxious and start scrambling to get things under control. Sometimes blame and accusation comes to the fore. Sometimes despair and humiliation. At some point it is wise to invoke Jesus.

Protestations. We may echo Jesus with things such as "Why are you bothering me with this?" or "I have put in my time already" or "Now is not a convenient time." or "What concern is this situation to me?" We protest.

Miracle through earthen vessels We are those very earthen vessels that can be found lying around. We and others are vessels that might easily be written off. We are those vessels that have deep roots in ritual cleansing (you know, that whole baptism thing). We vessels are brought into the mix through the promptings of Jesus. There are treasures to be had in us earthen vessels.

Through those earthen vessels. In us and through us new life comes into being. In us and through us renewed joy comes into being. In us and through us an epiphany (revelation) of Jesus comes into being. There is a reason that we are lingering in a sort of Cana. God has work to do in us and through us. Despite our protestations and despite what we might deem our humble and plain appearance God has life, joy and revealing work to do in us and through us.

God, help us be open to all you would do in us and through us for the sake of others. Help us be open to all that you would do to us and through the earthen vessels of others. Help us experience your revealed glory and grow into a deeper belief. Amen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

e-vo for week of January 6 (Epiphany)

Dearest e-votees,

Apologies for jumping ahead a few fortnights last week and using the appointed gospel for January 31.

This week we are going to use the epistle lesson appointed for Wednesday, January 6 which is "Epiphany of our Lord".

The church season of Epiphany is all about God's work being revealed. The word "epiphany" literally means "to shine on" and figuratively means "to be revealed". The Sundays of the season of Epiphany are bookended with "Baptism of our Lord" this coming Sunday and "Transfiguration Sunday" which is February 7.

May our days and our time out in the world be full of epiphanic moments.



1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Ephesians 3:1-12, NRSV

Epiphanies come from without. They are a gift from God to reveal God's truths in God's timing through God's chosen vessels. We don't merit God's revelation. Which means we are free from trying to earn God's attention and revelations. Saul (renamed Paul) was very earnest and zealous in trying to merit God's favor. He did so by persecuting the church and serving as a coat-check and sideline approver of the stoning of Stephen. His intent may have been good but his actions were not. But God chose him (even though he was self-admittedly "the very least of all the saints") to be a recipient of God's revelation.

There is a poem by Ed Nesselhuf who was the director of prison congregations in South Dakota called "What Was It Like for You Dysmas?". It conveyed that if Jesus could pardon the repentant thief (Dysmas) than surely there was hope for us too. This is the classic argument from the greater to the lesser. If God could do such a mighty work than surely the smaller similar works are well within God's possibilities. If God's grace was broad enough for a condemned criminal hanging next to Jesus on a cross than God's grace must surely be big enough for us too.

Perhaps Paul is offering us similar hope. If God's grace is big enough to see past Paul's errors and missteps and to reveal the gospel to the likes of Paul than surely there is hope and assurance that God will revealed to us as well. God's grace is broad enough for Paul (nee Saul) and it surely large enough for us.

Since we know that God loves all, including us. Since we know that God chooses to be revealed to all, including us. We can be bold in the faith. And we can be confident in the faith. Not in our own merit or rock-solid faith or deservedness but in the one in whom we have faith. Jesus has poured out boundless riches of grace, mercy, love and forgiveness. Thanks be to God.

God, help us never to declare or dismiss as unworthy those to whom you have chosen to grace with revelation--including ourselves. Shine your revealing light into our lives. Help us to shine our lights so that people may see and give glory to you, our Father in heaven. Amen.